While President Barack Obama presses the case abroad, Secretary of State John Kerry and other members of his administration are looking to shore up some of the President’s base of liberal Democrats to
support his plan of limited military action in Syria.
On Thursday, a State Department spokesperson said in an email, Kerry held an off-the-record session with foreign policy columnists. Later in the day, he is scheduled to appear on MSNBC in an interview with Chris Hayes, who has been one on the left resistant to entering into the conflict.
And on Friday afternoon, Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power will be featured at a public event at the left-leaning Center for American Progress, where she will “discuss the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons against Syrian civilians and the need for an international response.”
The push comes as Obama faces perhaps more than expected pushback from his base on Syria — threatening the chances of a resolution passing the House of Representatives. Though they should be greeted with scepticism with so much time left before a vote, various whip counts do not paint a rosy picture for passage in the House.
The White House also held a call with the Congressional Progressive Caucus, a 70-plus member group, to try to convince them of the President’s plan for action.
“If we don’t do this, Assad will have a message that he can use these weapons with impunity,” Kerry said in the interview with Hayes, according to an advance transcript released by the network.
“We will have turned our back on the next batch of children, on the next batch of parents. We will have turned out back on the international norm. We will have lost credibility in the world, and I guarantee you if we turn our backs today, the picture we all saw in the paper today and the media of those people being shot, that will take place more because more extremists will be attracted to this because they will be funded as the only alternative in order to take on Assad.”
The White House’s thinking is that its liberal base will be easier to persuade than a growing number of libertarian Republicans who oppose intervention in Syria, as well as Republicans who normally vote against Obama’s wishes.
Polls show that the White House has a lot of work to do, however — even in convincing its base. The Progressive Change Campaign Committee, a grassroots progressive organisation, released a poll Wednesday that showed 73% of its members oppose military intervention in Syria. And 52% said they don’t believe Obama and Kerry when they say certain things are true in Syria as justification for military action
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